If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident in Cape Cod, Massachusetts that caused you harm – whether it be a slip and fall, car accident, or any other situation where another’s conduct caused your injuries – you may be considering filing a personal injury claim. It is important to know that you have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts’ civil court system. This is referred to as a statute of limitations and governs the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed or the claim for damages will be forever barred simply due to the passage of time.
Massachusetts’ Statute of Limitations
Massachusetts law specifically governing personal injury statute of limitations can be found in Chapter 260, Section 2A of Massachusetts General Law. The law sets a three-year deadline for filing a lawsuit claiming monetary compensation for personal injuries suffered. This deadline generally applies to virtually all types of injury-related lawsuits, regardless of whether the case proceeds under the theory of negligence or intentional torts. Simply put, when another person’s intentional or careless act causes you to suffer an injury and you want to seek monetary compensation in court for your losses, you have up to three years to get the paperwork filed in court. Of note, the clock – or the time – starts ticking from the date of the underlying accident that caused the alleged harm.
Missing the Deadline
If the three-year deadline has passed since the underlying Cape Cod accident that caused harm, and the injured party attempts to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court anyway the case will likely be dismissed. Indeed, the defendant – or the individual or entity being sued – will file a legal document called a “Motion to Dismiss” pointing out to the court that the statute of limitation deadline has passed. Unless a rare exception applies to the case, a Massachusetts court will likely dismiss the case. Once the case is dismissed, no matter how bad your injuries are and how much damages you have suffered, you have no right to seek monetary compensation.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitation
There are a number of different circumstances that may delay or pause the clock on a case, extending the statute of limitations beyond the three-year timeline. These include:
- If the injured party is under 18 years of age or incapacitated by reason of mental illness at the time of the underlying accident that caused the injury. In such a case, the injured party will have three years to file the lawsuit from the time he or she turns 18 or has their competence restored;
- If the responsible party (the defendant(s)) resides outside of Massachusetts after the underlying accident, the time period of the absence will likely not be counted as part of the three-year deadline to file a lawsuit in court; and
- If the responsible party (the defendant(s)) fraudulently conceals his or her liability – or takes steps to keep the injured party from discovering there is a right to file suit – the time period during which the fraud and/or concealment occurred will likely not be counted as part of the three-year deadline to file a lawsuit in court.
Legal Help in Massachusetts
As you can see, time is of the essence when it comes to asserting your rights to monetary compensation for injuries suffered due to the fault of another. If you have been hurt and have questions about the applicable statute of limitations, contact the experienced Cape Cod personal injury attorneys at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP today for your initial case evaluation.
Attorney Peter M. Goldberg is the founder of and managing partner at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP, and has been in private practice since 1986. He takes pride in the fact he deals directly with his clients on a daily basis working to get their cases resolved to the fullest extent of their rights. Peter practices personal injury law and workers compensation law in Massachusetts.